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Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment
Report | Published: July 2011

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  • Summary
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Publication Summary

The evolution of the social Web is driving fundamental change in how people search, shop for and purchase travel. Once passive consumers of travel information, today's online travelers are content creators and collaborators, posting traveler reviews and actively sharing travel experiences through their social networks. This dynamic online travel ecosystem – interactive and increasingly immersive – affects the websites people visit, the travel products and services they purchase, where they stay, and even how they feel about a particular travel experience. Phocuswright's Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment examines the role and impact of social media and content on the online travel ecosystem. Created in partnership with Circos, Compete and Travelport, this report focuses on how social media influences the major online travel categories, and highlights the implications for travel companies. Phocuswright's Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment includes:

  • Influence of online social features on online travelers from 2008 – 2010
  • Extensive analysis of the "social travel category," organized around traveler review sites, hotel review pages of online travel agencies and travel blogs (including blog networks and large individual blogs)
  • Traffic, referral and conversion analysis of more than 50 "social travel category" websites in relation to the OTA and hotel supplier website categories from 2008 – 2010
  • Cross-visitation, referral and conversion analysis from general social networks (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) to hotel supplier websites and OTAs
  • Evolution of social travel guides, and examination of the role of the social graph in trip planning and travel product selection
  • Detailed analysis of nearly 2.9 million traveler reviews posted on social travel websites from 2008 – 2010, representing more than 26,000 U.S. properties of 65 leading hotel brands. Discussion covers:
    • Volume and share of traveler reviews on OTA vs. traveler review sites, and how this has evolved from 2008 – 2010
    • Semantic analysis with Circos examining the sentiment of online traveler reviews
    • Phocuswright's "Buzz" social travel benchmark, which provides a gauge of social travel performance in terms of review volume and activity by hotel star rating
    • Social Travel Advocacy Index (STAI) benchmark, which tracks traveler sentiment over time and across all reviews, and is used to gauge travelers' satisfaction with a particular hotel stay or brand
More than two thirds of online travelers now cite traveler reviews (either on OTAs or traveler review websites) as influential when planning their leisure trips. Knowing how travelers operate in the social Web has become a prerequisite for success in the online travel space. Travel companies that want to leverage this power and potential must develop a clear understanding of how to measure, manipulate and improve their social media performance. Specifically, they need to understand the ways in which traveler reviews, traffic and referrals from social networks, social travel sentiment and the underlying social graph increasingly impact the behavior of online travelers. Whether it's grasping the online traveler review landscape or tracking referrals from Facebook, travel companies must keep abreast of how social media impacts online traveler behavior. Purchase Phocuswright's Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment to gain the information and tools you need to understand and take advantage of this powerful force in online travel.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Social Media in Travel
Key Findings

Sizing Social Travel: Traffic & Conversion
Traffic Analysis
Conversion Analysis

Social Networks
Facebook Conversion Analysis
Social Travel Guides and the Social Graph

Traveler Reviews: Activity
Online Travel Agencies vs. Traveler Review Websites
Hotel Buzz: Review Volume by Star Classification

Traveler Reviews: Sentiment
STAI by Star Classification
STAI by Website

List of Tables

Influence of Online Features

Average Monthly Unique Visitors by Online Travel Category and Annual Change by Half-Year Periods, 2008-2010

Average Monthly Unique Visitors by Social Travel Category by Quarter, 2008-2010

Average Monthly Unique Visitor Change for Social Travel Categories, 2009-2010

Comparative Conversion Rates of Unique Visitors to OTA and Hotel Website Categories of All Visitors and OTA Review Page Visitors, 2010

Guest Review Summary Information in Hotel Search Results and Full Review Display in Expedia.com

Hotel and OTA Shopper Same-Month Cross-Visitation with Facebook and Twitter, 2010

TripAdvisor's Implementation of the Facebook Open Graph

Delta Air Lines Ticket Counter Application on Facebook

Average Monthly Immediate Referral Conversion Volume to Hotel Websites in Half-Year Periods, 2008-2010

Monthly Converting Referrals to Hotel Websites from Traveler Review Sites and Facebook, 2008-2010

Airbnb's Social Connections

Total Volume of Social Travel Hotel Reviews and Room Demand, 2008-2010

Share of Online Reviews by Half-Year Periods, 2008-2010

Volume of Reviews: Traveler Review Site Category Detail by Half-Year Periods, 2008-2010

Growth in Volume of Posted Hotel Reviews by OTAs and TripAdvisor, 2009-2010

Volume of Posted Hotel Reviews on OTAs, Share by OTA, 2008 and 2010

Comparative Share of Hotel Rooms and Reviews by Star Classification, 2010

Average Monthly Buzz by Hotel Star Classification, 2008-2010

Monthly Social Travel Advocacy Index (STAI) and Average Daily Rate (ADR), 2008-2010

Aggregate STAI Score by Hotel Star Classification, 2008-2010

Monthly STAI Score on Four Largest Traveler Review Sites, 2008-2010